Saturday, March 4, 2023

Baiorensu jakku: haremu bonba (1986)

... aka: バイオレンスジャック ハーレムボンバー
... aka: Violence Jack: Harem Bomber
... aka: Violence Jack: Slumking
... aka: Violence Jack, Part 1: Slum King
... aka: Violence Jack: Slumking - Part 3

Directed by:
Osamu Kamijô

A large comet hits the Earth, immediately causing widespread death and destruction. Volcanoes erupt, the Earth splits open, extreme twisters and "hell quakes" level cities and the majority of the population perish. The Kanto region of Japan has since become a lawless, dusty wasteland filled with violent nomads and barbarians and where "death is the only escape from the tyranny of life." Rising to ranks of master in this dangerous new world is the sadistic Slum King, the self-proclaimed "Lord of the Wasteland." Immediately under him is Captain Bomber, a huge long-haired blonde who wears a metal head casing and runs a sex slave ring. Opposing them and their goons is the enigmatic Violence Jack, who has seemingly risen from within the Earth itself. Jack, a hulking, muscular giant with the strength of 50 men, the fangs of a tiger and "an unquenchable thirst for destruction," may be a demon from hell or the spirit of death itself yet he's shown as a doer of good here. 

Upon learning of his existence, the Slum King immediately orders his followers to find and kill him. Easier said than done, of course. Not only super-strong, agile, inhuman and possibly immortal, Jack also comes equipped with a powerful jack knife.

Meanwhile, some of Captain Bomber's helpers are going around kidnapping young women, with plans to force them into lives as sex slaves. While transporting a load of abducted girls, their vehicle is overturned and the latest shipment of prisoners are able to escape into the wasteland. Two of the girls, the punk-look Yumi, who wears green lipstick and has orange and yellow hair so you know she really can't be trusted, and the preppy Mari, who only came to this area to search for her missing lover Kenichi, run into an abandoned building to hide. Jack appears long enough to help the girls escape from their kidnappers by ripping one's head off and then smashing another with the headless body, but they're re-captured soon after he disappears.

Taken to one of the few crumbling high rise buildings still left standing, Yumi and Mari are tended to by a sadistic, one-eyed dominatrix named Rose, who makes it her personal mission to break the girls in. With help from some chubby perverts dressed in leather harnesses and bikini briefs, they're degraded, lashed with a thorny whip, raped and forced into lesbian sex. Kenichi, who swore allegiance to Bomber after he saved his life during a feral dog attack, has been working as a helicopter pilot for him ever since. However, once he discovers they're holding Mari captive, he decides to sneak her and Yumi out of the complex. He then makes an arrangement with Bomber to help kill Violence Jack in exchange for letting him and Mari leave.

I'm not sure how the original version plays, but the English-language version is a laugh. There's useless and hilariously overly dramatic narration, title screens thrown in to introduce just two of the characters (including changing the name of "Harem Bomber" to "Harlem Bomber" for no good reason) and atrocious dialogue like "God damn it! Where the hell is Jack!? Fuckin' chicken shit! Fuck him! Fuck it! Shit! Fuck it! Shit!" However, the original Japanese-language version likely wouldn't be much better due to the poor, confusing script, crude animation, thin and bland characterizations, aimless plot and awful editing and pacing.

I also can't figure out why American distributors decided to re-title this chapter Slum King when he's not even the primary antagonist. Hell, he's barely even in the film at all, after being introduced at the beginning, though he may factor more into the two follow-ups: Violence Jack - Evil Town (1988) and Violence Jack - Hell's Wind (1990). While the running time of around 40 minutes is far too short for what this OVA hopes to accomplish, if one isn't too caught up on things like dialogue and narrative, this is loaded with blood sprays, gore (slashings, shootings, stabbed heads, decapitations, fingers and hands cut off...), nudity, rape and profanity.

This was based on a popular and long-running manga series, which began all the way back in 1973 in Weekly Shōnen Magazine and still continues on to this day in one iteration or another. The manga was co-written and illustrated by Gô Nagai up until 1990, but there have been many spin-offs, reboots and remakes since, like Shin Violence Jack (2005-2008) and, most recently, Violence Jack 20XX (2021-2022). The manga also spawned at least three novels.

After its initial Japanese release, this and its two sequels were distributed in the U. S. by Manga Entertainment in a slightly cut form, though the films would later be released uncut by The Right Stuf / Critical Mass. Discotek Media would eventually acquire the series and release them on DVD in their uncut form, with audio options consisting of the English language dub or original Japanese soundtrack with optional English subs. Note: The series was initially released out of order here, with this original being called "Part 3".

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